My Hall Of Fame
Amongst the bulk of movie lovers, there is little argument about the excellence and mastery of Woody Allen and his abundance of films. If you ask someone which Woody Allen movie is their favorite, the majority of film fanatics will inevitably say either Annie Hall (1977) or Manhattan (1979). Because both of those films are universally loved and praised, it is easy to understand why they are the most commonly remembered and adored Woody Allen films. However, if you want to get to know another film lover, you should ask which Woody Allen film is their favorite, with the exception of these obvious classics. Whatever film they choose next will be extremely informative as to what kind of movie fan (and person) they really are. For me, my third Woody Allen film will always be the comic gem, Broadway Danny Rose (1984).
Woody Allen always plays the lovable loser well, but in Broadway Danny Rose he goes even further because he plays a loser talent agent for the hopeless and untalented. None of his clients possess enough raw talent to make it big, because if they did, they wouldn’t have hired Danny Rose for their agent.
Like all great Woody Allen movies, Broadway Danny Rose takes place in New York, where a group of stand up comedians is sitting around the Carnegie Deli telling old stories about Danny Rose. Most of the stories are short, humorous anecdotes about Danny’s years as a stand-up comedian, but Sandy Baron says he has the ultimate Danny Rose story, and the heart of our film begins.
Years before, Danny was representing a washed up Italian singer named Lou Canova (Nic Apollo Forte). All of a sudden nostalgia is making a comeback and Lou’s popularity is growing. Danny gets Lou a performance at the Waldorf Astoria, and Milton Berle is going to come see the show. Since this is the most important show of Lou’s career, he asks Danny to be a “beard” and bring Lou’s mistress, Tina (Mia Farrow), to the show. Reluctantly Danny agrees, but when he goes to pick up Tina he is mistaken as being Tina’s real boyfriend, and her gangster ex-boyfriend puts a hit out on Danny. Now Danny and Tina are on the run, with only a few hours before Lou’s big show.
It has often been said about Woody Allen that he plays the same role again and again, but the Danny Rose character is much different from his other roles, specifically in the fact that he quite honestly is a loser. Don’t get me wrong, when I call him a loser I mean it in a good way. Danny Rose is kind, thoughtful and patient. He treats everyone around him with the upmost respect and truly believes in other people, including his hopeless clients. One of the early scenes in the film showcases Danny trying desperately to convince someone to hire one of his clients for the weekend. As Danny rattles off all the acts that he represents, they sound like they would be well suited for a circus. However, Danny (or Woody) is there with his waving arms and wide eyes, somehow trying to convince this guy that what he needs is a one legged tap dancer, a one armed juggler or maybe even a woman who performs songs using just glasses of water. As you sit there and listen to the “water glass music lady” do her magic, Woody looks right at us and smiles, not because he is trying to convince us she is talented, but because he honestly believes in her.
Broadway Danny Rose isn’t a long movie, running at only 84 minutes, but every scene is funny and the story is certainly original. It is one of the best screenplays in Woody Allen’s career, and was nominated for an Academy Award. Mia Farrow is almost unrecognizable in this film with her big blonde hair and dark sunglasses that she wears throughout nearly every scene. Even her speech pattern seems drastically different than in her other films. Of the numerous roles that Mia Farrow had in Woody Allen’s films, this is the acting performance that I enjoy most because she plays a role that is so completely different from everything that I have come to expect.
Besides all of the marvelous things I have already said about Broadway Danny Rose, it also holds the distinction of having an uproariously hysterical scene when Danny and Tina are being chased by one of the gangsters inside a warehouse full of parade floats and balloons. When the gangster starts shooting, he puts holes in a tanker truck filled with helium. As the chase continues, Danny keeps yelling, “I’m just the beard!” and his pursuer answers with a string of derogatory and profane remarks, but it’s their squeaky, helium filled voices that make the scene one of the funniest things in any Woody Allen film.
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